Analyzing interactions with the HiPerModel*

In our last blog, we looked at the importance of interactions in the world of business. In fact, 70% of the success of any company is reliant on interactions between people. And those interactions can be broken down into three easy E’s: Energy, Exploration and Engagement. This time round we’re going to look at this in more detail, with the HiPerModel.

The easy E’s

Energy can be either positive or negative depending on the demeanor of the people interacting. In a meeting, Positive energy (P) enables teams to flourish and bounce ideas off one another, while negative energy (N) limits creativity and participation as people shoot down each other’s ideas. This is counterproductive and even worse, can push some individuals into their survival behavior.

Engagement can also go both ways. When engagement is focused on inquiry (I), everyone is asking questions to find a good answer. However, when the engagement is advocacy (A), individuals or groups are more focused on presenting their ideas and often only their ideas, no matter how good or bad an idea it might be. Advocacy can also force team members into their survival behavior, when there is a lack of engagement between the teams and one group simply gives up trying to engage with the other.

Exploration looks at how the team communicates with one another whether they are listening to the other’s ideas (O) or whether they are only thinking about themselves (S). When an individual is only thinking about him/her self is saying then the impact on or opinion of other’s does not count and that can bring out survival behavior in the rest of the team.

Control loops

You may have noticed that the term survival behavior has been regularly mentioned in our blogs. As an individual we have our own personal power zone, which is our comfort zone, where we feel most at home and in control. However, outside forces can attack our needs and sensitivities or affect our values, which can force us into a defensive mode. This is called our survival behavior or danger zone. In our survival behavior the individual defaults to certain behaviors, even negative ones, to get through a certain event. These outside forces as you can see on the diagram are typically the negative aspects of the easy E’s. These cause stressors on the individuals’ needs and values, which may lead to blocking assumptions and can push someone into their survival behavior.

[We will go into a lot more detail with control loops in future blogs]

Energy Sources and Stressors

The easy E’s can manifest themselves as positive or negative influences. The positive influences we call energy sources, which is when the team has direction, trust one another and behave positively and work cohesively to get the job done. Stressors are more of a problem. This is the negative side of the E’s, where a team may have only little sense of direction, hardly any autonomy, trust or a common goal. Without a way to go a team will languish and their productivity will drop.


Dynamics looks at the persona of the person who leads the group and how they allow their groups to work. As we look through the model and we see that the easy E’s directly affect our personal power zone through energy sources and stressors. And this type of energy is reflected even more so through the leadership within the organization.

Fixed-point dynamics

This represents a leader who has a very authoritarian attitude. They believe they know what is best for the company and it is ‘their way or the highway’. The easy E’s will be focused on advocacy, negative energy and a very self-centered nature, which will send nothing but stressors to the teams personal power zones. They will feel like they are not trusted to take decisions and their suggestions will be ignored in favor of the manager or leader’s own ideas until they simply give up trying. The HiPerModel show’s that teams in fixed-point dynamics are likely to be low performing teams as their morale and energy has been drained away by the impositions of their superiors.

Limit cycle dynamics

At the opposite end of the spectrum is limit cycle dynamics. This is where the leader will accept all ideas from the group, no matter how farfetched or unfeasible the idea could be. On the plus side, there is an overflow of positivity going on in these team meetings and the people are happy but there’s no negativity or filter, meaning that over the top ideas could be accepted in place of smart conscientious ones. It’s like a company focusing on creating a swimming pool and helipad on top of their headquarters, rather than working on a specific product or service needed for their business to succeed. There will be hard working teams but they could work themselves into bankruptcy, by taking unrealistic decisions.

Adaptive dynamics

Meeting in the middle are adaptive dynamics. Here is the perfect mix of positivity and negativity. Negativity can prove beneficial when expressed through constructive criticism. It also keeps the team on an even keel, understanding when an out of the box idea is going too far. In the diagram, the energy created in meetings will be both positive and negative which will make for a challenging atmosphere sending through both energy sources and stressors which will push the group to rectify the situation.

While individual control loops can still be compromised, the team is being challenged and will work together to find a successful outcome without leaving any member behind. Being able to filter ideas will also enable teams to make the best possible decision for every scenario.

HiPerModel in a real-life scenario

As you may have noticed, Donald Trump was recently named the 45th president of the United States of America. Even before his debut in office, he has shown a very fixed-point way of thinking. This is not intended as a slight against President Trump but is based on what has been said in his short tenure as president.

As we know, Trump is not afraid to speak his mind whether it’s building a wall, his distaste for Muslims and his outright denouncement of climate change. People are drawn to Trump because he speaks his mind without a filter and he’s not a part of the congressional brass. Obama for example was much more diplomatic, he wouldn’t say something out of turn because it would be unprofessional.

I understand the Trump appeal. Someone who isn’t doing what a politician does, there’s no wonder why everyone gravitates towards him. But what people need to understand is that the energy he gives off is that of negativity, as no matter what ideas are brought to the table, it is always Trump who must have the final say. Which means the people in the back office are being fed stressors as they are just applying whatever Trump wants to happen.

As a result, I believe that individuals in Trump’s cabinet could be suffering from his negative energy, advocacy and selfish way of thinking. The stressors could be forcing team members into their survival behavior as their sensitivities and needs are not being met. The easy E’s are that of negativity and so you can see that Trumps ideals and controlling nature is that of fixed-point dynamics.

As a fixed-point, theoretically Trump’s cabinet are simply not getting the necessary essentials to work as a well-oiled machine and instead are working through the negative energy as a low performance working team that will do everything their boss wants under authoritarian rule.

Thank you for reading and be sure to catch our next on blog ………

* The HiPerModel connects models like the group dynamics model introduced by MIT in 2012, elements of the MetaLearning Model developed by Marcial Losada and an individual behavioral model that I learned from one of my personal coaches, Marjo Korrel, more than 15 years ago.